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More Evidence Against the Multi-Session Recess Appointment

As discussed by the January 6, 2012 OLC memorandum, Presidents Harding and Coolidge each made one “intrasession” recess appointment. Harding’s appointment, made on August 30, 1921 (and presumably the reason for the August 27 opinion of Attorney General Daugherty), was to fill a vacancy in the Registrar of the Land Office. Coolidge made an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Interstate Commerce Commission. Along with President Andrew Johnson’s recess appointments, these were apparently the only “intrasession” recess appointments made prior to the 1940s.

I don’t know anything more about Harding’s appointment, but Coolidge’s recess appointment was of a gentleman by the name of John J. Esch. After Congress convened on December 5, 1927, it adjourned from December 21, 1927 to January 4, 1928. Coolidge recess appointed Esch to the ICC on January 3, 1928.

Under the multi-session recess appointment theory, Esch’s appointment would have lasted until the end of the “next session” of Congress, which convened on December 3, 1928 and ended on March 3, 1929. However, according to this Wikipedia entry, “Esch’s recess appointment ended with the close of Congress’s term on May 29, 1928, and he left the Commission.”

This is further evidence that the Daugherty opinion was neither intended nor interpreted to validate “intrasession” recess appointments that would span more that one congressional session.

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